SOUTH SIOUX CITY — Jeff Jamrog wants the Midland University football program to raise into the top tier of the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
The coaches and media preseason polls have Midland right in that same spot — fourth place — heading into the 2019 season that starts later this month.
Midland is looking up at the same three teams it finished behind in 2018.
The Mustangs, Red Raiders and Defenders were ranked 1-2-3 in the coaches and media polls.
“We have a chip on our shoulder, and we didn’t play the way we hoped to (last year),” said Jamrog, the Warriors’ head football coach, at media day last week.
Midland ended its season last year to a six-point loss to Dordt University. The Warriors ended up with a 7-4 overall record and a 5-4 record in the GPAC.
One reason Jamrog believes the Warriors will have a turnaround this upcoming season is the improvement to their strength and conditioning program.
Previously, the Warriors were working out three days a week. The other two days were meant for skill and drill work.
Now, Midland’s football players are doing strength and conditioning workouts five days a week.
At first, Jamrog was hesitant on bumping up the workload on the weights.
“We’re doing some things we think are on the cutting edge,” Jamrog said. “We’ll see how it pays off. We think it’ll be the edge we need to get better.”
Jamrog also mentioned Ponca High School graduate Dalton Tremayne in his remarks. Tremayne caught one touchdown pass and took a kickoff return to the house last season. Tremayne made the All-GPAC honorable mention list in 2018, but Jamrog hopes the Warriors sophomore can do more this season.
“I hope he’s going to be as good as anyone else in the league,” Jamrog said. “He has a lot of talent.”
The Warriors will visit Sioux City on Sept. 21 to play the Mustangs, then Briar Cliff will visit Fremont, Neb. on Oct. 5.
Much like the Warriors, the Bulldogs were picked to finish where they were in 2018, which was in eighth place.
That doesn’t sit well with coach Patrick Daberkow, who believes his team is better than an eighth-place prediction.
“Our offseason has put us in a position to where we feel good about where we’re at from where we have been,” Daberkow said. “At the end of the day, the score will take care of itself if you’ve done all the small things right.”
Daberkow did not say who would take the first snap at the quarterback position, even though Concordia used three men last year.
Jake Kemp, Andrew Perea and Blake Culbert all took snaps last season, but the Bulldogs welcome transfer Christian Rawlinson to its depth chart.
“We’re bringing in multiple quarterbacks that can compete, and we expect improvement there as well,” Daberkow said.
Tigers coach Ross Cimpl didn’t sugarcoat what last year was: A major disappointment.
The Tigers went 1-8 overall, and lost each of their six GPAC contests. They return several young players, but Cimpl believes that could be an advantage.
“We don’t want our guys to be walking on eggshells,” Cimpl said. “Being young as they are, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. Some of these guys don’t know where Morningside or Sioux City, Iowa, is.”
Doane also has a quarterback battle on its hands.
Tigers coach Chris Bessler says that there are two QBs on the listed roster — freshman Cameron Quick of Wahoo, Neb. and Yankton High School graduate Garrett Tennant, who is a sophomore — battling for the spot.
Like Concordia, Bessler will wait as long as he needs to announce the starter for the Aug. 29 battle against Ottawa University of Arizona in Crete, Neb.
“Someone will earn it at camp,” Bessler said. “We will be a little new on the offensive side.”
The Tigers went 6-4 last season, but won their last two contests against DWU and Concordia.
“I thought we were close last year,” Bessler said.
For the first time since the 2012 season, Broncos coach Tony Harper doesn’t have to worry about finding a new quarterback heading into the season.
He knows it’s going to be between Isaiah Jackson and Griffin Roberts as returners.
Jackson was one of three quarterbacks who played last year for Hastings, but has the most experience between he and Roberts.
Last year, Jackson was 57-for-116 with six touchdowns. He averaged 130 yards a game, which was more than the departed Clark Livingston.
Roberts did play in five games, however. In those five appearances, Roberts was 11-for-33 with a touchdown and three interceptions.
“The thing that (Isaiah) has is his leadership,” Harper said. “He took hold of it and he stepped in and didn’t miss a beat.”
When Jamestown coach Brian Mistro took to the podium, it immediately dawned on him that he was the new guy on the dais.
And, he fully embraced that role.
Mistro went up to the podium proud to be part of a group of coaches that have several years under their belts in the 20-year history of the GPAC.
The newset Jimmies coach replaces Josh Kittell, who left to become the recruiting coordinator for North Dakota State. Kittell and Mistro have a close bond, as the departing coach was the best man in Mistro’s wedding.
Mistro attended Jamestown as a college student-athlete and was a two-year starter for the Jimmies. Now, the focus shifts to turning his alma mater from a three-win season.
“From what I’ve heard, this conference is the real deal,” Mistro said. “We can’t take a week off. For me, what I’ve learned watching film, this is a great player-talent league. We need to win some more games, and I’m well aware of that.”